Second novels and expectations

Welcome to my stop on the Ylva-Bywater Blog Hop! In case you’re just joining us, we’ve already had posts from Jove Belle, Rachel Spangler, Cheryl Head, Gill McKnight, Baxter Clare Trautman, and Carol Rosenfeld.

Today, I want to write about the second novel, and its relation to expectations. My first novel, Barring Complications, was a “legal thriller,” or at least, this is what my publisher and a couple of reviews called it. I’ll definitely take it—the story follows a Supreme Court Justice, an attorney, and a gay marriage case. Along the way, some crazy homophobes do some stalking, and there’s a bit of suspense.

It would be understandable to expect my second novel to be another legal thriller, but not so much. When I first started writing fiction, I made a couple of promises to myself. I never wanted to be the kind of writer who churns out the same story every time, packaged differently—a romance with two cops, a romance with two lawyers, a romance between a cop and a lawyer. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of writing—as a reader, in fact, there are times when I quite enjoy knowing exactly what I’m going to get. But this whole endeavor is an opportunity to stretch myself creatively in ways that my day job doesn’t allow, so I wanted to try something completely different for my second novel, Stowe Away.

Stowe Away is a lot slower than Barring Complications, and intentionally so. I’ve been calling it a meditation on coming of age, on mother-daughter relationships, and on first love. It’s not at all about the law and highly-driven characters who have a single goal in mind (legalizing gay marriage). Sam, Stowe Away’s protagonist, probably wishes she were a character in Barring Complications, but she’s just a normal person, with normal-person anxieties and flaws. In some ways, she’s her own worst enemy, because aren’t we all sometimes? But I think (hope!) she’s also sweetly endearing and entirely relatable.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00005]

I won’t always write meditations on coming of age—my next novel is the sequel to Barring Complications, called Benched, and it addresses what comes after “happily ever after.” But I won’t always write legal thrillers either. I recently did a quick chat with the ladies of the Cocktail Hour, who said my books are “romance, plus.” While I might change the pacing, tone, themes, and conflicts I write about, this will stay constant: I’ll always write novels that are about romance, plus something else, too.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy Stowe Away, and I hope you enjoy KD Williamson’s post—she’s up next on our blog hop. Take it away, KD!



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Michelle Aguilar says:

    “Sam, Stowe Away’s protagonist, probably wishes she were a character in Barring Complications, but she’s just a normal person, with normal-person anxieties and flaws.”

    I love this observation. She so does wish she was a character in Barring Complications. And it’s a good point you make too: not everyone gets to be in the history books.

    Go you for wanting to stretch yourself and do different things as an author.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ornella says:

    I’m pleased to drop a few lines out of admiration and out of gratitude for Blythe Rippon’s work.
    As luck would have it, about three years ago, I bumped into her novels browsing a very popular fanfiction website,
    one year after I had discovered sapphic oriented fanfiction – not a common reading in italy, in fact a rare one, I might say.
    Mind, I’m not a native English speaker, but I suddenly realised there was something very different in Blythe Rippon’s work,
    something about her writing style, her English lexicon, her sentence construction that I found challenging and utmost fascinating.
    It had a quality – I don’t know exactly how to say this – it shone with a different quality that reminded me of something closer to Art tout court,
    and I felt it had a breath of universal literature in it.
    This happens when, once you finish reading a story, you’re not the same person you were when you started reading it.
    This is Stowe Away, to me.
    And I’m looking forward to reading the ultimate published version.

    sorry if I messed up verb tenses and whatever English grammar rule, I’m stranded at the edge of the Empire 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. blytherippon says:

      Ornella, I can’t even explain how much these words about my writing mean to me. These are some of the highest possible compliments you could ever pay to a writer, and I will hold these words dear for years to come. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

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